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Reading Room

The reading room includes articles and videos of potential interest to consumers and medical professionals. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the NC Medical Board, its members and staff. Note: Some links may require subscriptions.

Virus that murders sleeping bacteria could be used to assassinate superbugs

January 30, 2024
After six years of searching, researchers from the University of Basel and ETH Zurich in Switzerland have found what might be a crucial weapon in the fight against superbugs: viruses that are able to prey on and kill dangerous bacteria while they’re in a dormant state.

Bacteria go into this sleep mode when they’re low on nutrients or under various kinds of stress. It’s a form of self-protection, which means the bacteria can’t spread or grow. Yet existing in a shut-down state also protects them from threats that hijack their engines, such as viruses or antibiotics.

Bacteria actually spend a lot of time in this inactive state. Up until now, all efforts to discover a type of bacteria-infecting virus (or bacteriophage) that could wipe out hibernating bacteria had been unsuccessful.

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Could new clues on how long COVID affects immune system lead to treatment?

Medical News Today
January 28, 2024
Approximately 10%-20% of individuals with a SARS-CoV-2 infection experience lingering symptoms beyond three months after symptom onset. These symptoms referred to as long COVID, can be debilitating, but there is a lack of diagnostic or therapeutic tools. A new study published in Science found that patients experiencing long COVID symptoms six months after the SARS-CoV-2 infection show dysregulation of the blood clotting or coagulation system and the complement pathway, which is a part of the immune system. These changes in the coagulation and immune systems in long COVID patients were shown to predict the persistence of symptoms at six months. They may have the potential for the development of diagnostic tools. Moreover, therapeutics to counter the changes in the blood clotting and immune system could help alleviate long COVID symptoms.

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New strain of drug-resistant bacteria identified

Becker’s Healthcare
January 17, 2024
A new strain of multidrug resistant Pseudocitrobacter bacteria has been identified by researchers. The novel strain was resistant to seven different classes of antibiotics, according to the data, published Jan. 17 in The Journal of Hospital Infection.

Until now, there have been three known species of Pseudocitrobacter bacteria, and the novel isolate was determined to be distinct from all three. The patient from whom the new species was obtained was colonized but not experiencing infection, and therefore did not require antimicrobial treatment.

In clinical testing, the novel isolate, which researchers proposed naming Pseudocitrobacter limerickensis, was resistant to antibiotics including carbapenems, β-lactams, sulfonamides, fluoroquinolones, macrolides, aminoglycosides and cephalosporins.

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Popular myths about sleep, debunked

January 12, 2024

Sleep has a huge impact on our health. It helps our brains function, protects against heart disease and supports our immune system. And without it we would die.

Although for something so important, we aren’t formally taught how to do it right, says Rebecca Robbins, a sleep scientist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “In America, you learn about nutrition or sex ed in school, but never about sleep.”

It may be why only a third of Americans get the recommended amount of sleep each night, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Exercise combined with mindfulness best for mental health, researchers say

Medical News Today
January 9, 2024
The body and the mind impact each other, which means maintaining both physical and mental health is essential for a person’s overall well-being. Researchers are still investigating the nuanced relationship between physical and mental health and interventions to help people optimize both. A systematic review recently published in Mental Health and Physical Activity analyzed the results of 35 studies to look at the combined effects of mindfulness and exercise. The results suggest that when combined, mindfulness and exercise might offer the most benefits for mental health.

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